Growing cabbages from seed
Sowing and planting
Cabbages need a lot of space. They like a sunny spot with moist soil that has had plenty of well-rotted organic matter added, such as garden compost. Ideally, work this into the soil the previous autumn.
Cabbages can be sown all year, depending on when they mature. For best results, sow seeds indoors, 2cm deep, in pots or trays, and place on a sunny windowsill. After about five weeks, plant the young cabbages outdoors.
Spacing requirements vary: grow spring cabbages 25cm apart, with 30cm between rows; summer cabbages 38cm apart, with 30cm between rows, autumn cabbages 45cm apart, with 45cm between rows; and winter cabbages 45cm apart, with 60cm between rows.
Club root is a soil-borne infection that distorts the roots of cabbages and inhibits growth. It thrives in acidic soil, so check your soil's pH by doing a simple pH test. If your soil is acidic, then add lime to neutralise it.
Tending the crop
Preparation and uses
Discard any floppy outer leaves. Cut out the hard central stalks from the leaves. Wash well, then shred and use raw in salads and coleslaw, pickled in sauerkraut, braised or lightly steamed as a side dish with a knob of butter, but never boiled to death when the taste and smell turn bitter.
Save the cooking water, which is full of vitamins, minerals and flavour, to make nutritious soups or gravy.